Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Review - I Got You a Present!

I Got You a Present!
by Mike Erskine-Kellie & Susan McLennan
illustrated by Cale Atkinson
Date: 2020
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

A quest for the perfect birthday present leads to ever grander (and ever more imperfect) gift ideas in this clever metafiction story that's hilarious any day of the year.

"I wanted to get you the greatest present ever," our narrator tells us. But somehow, none of the best ideas seemed to pan out. First, there was the pair of hand-knitted birthday socks (have you ever tried knitting birthday socks?). Then, the ten-scoop ice cream cone (a disaster to carry), the magic kit (it disappeared, just like magic!), the apple juice-fueled jet pack (still a few kinks to work out) and the dinosaur (I couldn't find one anywhere). And now, time has run out, and our narrator still has nothing to give. Or, maybe there is something after all. Something that contains all those awesome gifts in one. Something that can be enjoyed again and again, just by turning the pages...

In their debut picture book, Emmy Award-winning children's television writers Mike Erskine-Kellie and Susan McLennan have created a laugh-out-loud story filled with heart. The metafiction approach (speaking directly to "you") and fun story together with the antic exuberance of Cale Atkinson's bold and colorful illustrations make this a lively read-aloud that will keep even the youngest children engaged. Though a book about finding the perfect birthday present is itself the perfect birthday present, it's also simply a delightful read for any time of year. It also offers an excellent character education lesson on perseverance.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

At first glance, I thought this was a story about an obnoxious lying duck. But then I got to the end and... I get it.

The narrator, a duck, tells you (the reader) all about how they set out to get you the perfect gift. They tried making things. They tried buying things. But something always went wrong. No matter how simple or outlandish the gift, there's always an excuse as to why it isn't being given to you. Until... there's a meta twist. I won't spoil it.

The illustrations by Cale Atkinson, whose work I previously encountered in Sir Simon: Super Scarer, are fine, with a somewhat retro style and cute details throughout. I'm not sure if I really love them, but they do work well to illustrate the story.

Overall, this is an interesting twist on a picture book that focuses on birthdays and gift-giving... with an unexpected ending that ties everything together.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.5 out of 5

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